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Introducing Shakespeare

Yvonne Divans Hutchinson, King Drew High School
Los Angeles, CA

Preparation for Active Reading Literature Circles Performing Shakespeare




Literature Circles: Translating Romeo and Juliet

Students met in Literature Circles to discuss their interpretations (translations) of passages of Act Two, Scene II. The first group finds that their interpretations of Juliet's famous "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" speech are fairly similar, as do the members of the second group. We practiced some ways of reading certain lines; I nudge them to notice literary devices such as dramatic irony and metaphor, grapple with vocabulary, and to make predictions about what will happen as they read further.

Romeo and Juliet is one of the core texts we read to explore the theme of Influences on the Human Spirit.

Literature Circle One

Group one reread the famous line that is often miscontrued to mean "Where are you, Romeo?" and the students recognize the dramatic irony in Juliet sighing over her new love Romeo and not being aware of his presence in the balcony.

Literature Circle Two

Group two also shared their translations as Mariel notes, in modern day parlance, Juliet's willingness to "make a commitment". Charles, the only young man in the group responds shyly to my suggestion that he read the part of Romeo.
Literature Circle Three

Group three discussed the farewell passages in the scene as Romeo and Juliet take leave of each other, including Juliet's lament that "parting is such sweet sorrow," and make predictions about what will happen next. Additionally, I gave them a purpose for reading: to notice the friar's relationship to Romeo and how his knowledge of plants and herbs is significant in the upcoming events of the play.

Related Materials

Reading Shakespeare Aloud  
"What does it say-- What does it mean-- What does it matter" Assignment  
Quotes for "Say/Mean/Matter" Assignment  

Student Work for "Say/Mean/Matter":
123 • 4 • 5678 • 910 • 11 • 12 • 1314 • 1516 • 17

Vocabulary assignment  

Resources and Links

Shakespeare Set Free
California Language Arts Standards for Ninth and Tenth Grade
Romeo and Juliet Original Text